Healthcare News & Insights

3 lessons from EHR veterans

Hospitals face a number of challenges when they implement a new EHR system and may end up struggling to maintain productivity at first. But planning ahead can help overcome those obstacles. 

emrHere are three key lessons passed along by veterans of the EHR adoption process:

1. Protect doctors’ time

When switching from paper charts to electronic records, normal processes are going to change, no matter what. However, hospitals have to make sure they change for the better. Switching to EHRs without managing the workflow can hurt productivity and make doctors dissatisfied with the system.

One common challenge: Doctors often complain that they have to spend too much time entering data into EHRs. In some cases, doctors may feel more like data-entry technicians than medical professionals, warned Reid Coleman, MD, chief medical officer for Nuance Communications, in a presentation at the recent Health IT Summit.

After implementing EHRs, hospitals need to make sure doctors still have time to focus on what they’re best at — treating patients. That might mean switching other staff members’ duties around so they can help out, or offering more training so doctors can use EHR systems more efficiently.

2. Get patients’ help

One of the benefits of EHRs — and one that can greatly increase efficiency for administrative staff — is the ability to take advantage of systems’ patient self-service tools.

Hospitals can save a lot of staff time by having patients enter data into the system themselves, said Theron Pappas, CIO of Holy Family Health in Manitowoc, WI, at a recent roundtable discussion held by Datamark and Creative Healthcare. For example, many of the data patients must fill out on forms when they visit can be done either through online portals beforehand, or entered into the system at a computer kiosk in the waiting room.

3. Focus on flexibility

While it’s important to find an EHR system that’s easy for doctors to use and has all the features the hospital needs, there’s no such thing as a perfect system, said Adam Weinstein, MD, in a recent blog post. In a hospital with several doctors, there will always be some gripes about any given EHR system.

That’s why Weinstein recommends finding the system that’s flexible enough to meet the greatest number of end users’ needs.

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